“As long as we’re at the top of the Big Ten and top of the nation in run defense and not giving up any rushing touchdowns and playing great defense overall, I have no complaints.”
Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch
Last year it felt like on almost every play Raekwon McMillan made a tackle. There were six games in 2015 in which McMillan made at least nine tackles in a game. So far in 2016 the most tackles McMillan has recorded in a game has been eight, which he did against both Tulsa and Oklahoma. So why the dip in production? The Buckeye defense hasn’t needed him to do nearly as much since the unit as a whole is playing at such a high level. The 33 tackles McMillan has made so far this year leads the Buckeyes, but the junior linebacker isn’t sweating the drop in his numbers.
What matters most to McMillan is how the Ohio State defense is playing, and right now they are one of the best defenses in the country. McMillan was called upon more last year to make plays since teams were trying to run up the middle on the Buckeyes. This year, teams haven’t had as much success doing so, as evidenced by Ohio State having yet to give up a rushing touchdown. While some of the other players on the defense are getting their names called more this year for the turnovers they are forcing, McMillan is still the captain of the defense. What the linebacker does might not be showing up in the stat sheet as much this year, but he is still what makes the defense tick.
“Guys who succeed at this level do it because their first passion is just being a part of the program, as opposed to guys who get here and then become obsessed with ‘OK, I have to get a scholarship’. Joe didn’t do that. Instead he took joy in the process.”
Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell on Joe Burger via Lindsay Schnell, Campus Rush
When three of his brothers had previously attended Notre Dame, there were many who had thought that Joe Burger would be next up to attend the prestigious Catholic university. After all, Joe did grow up rooting for the Fighting Irish, so it seemed like a given that he would follow in the footsteps of his brothers. That’s why it came as such a surprise to Joe’s father when Joe told him that he would be attending Ohio State. At least if Joe was going to be breaking one family tradition of attending Notre Dame, he would still be keeping alive another. All three of his brothers, as well as his father, all walked on at college but eventually earned a scholarship.
It’s not like Burger had much of a choice in walking on at Ohio State though, as there were already plenty of talented players ahead of him who were deserving of scholarships. Still, Joe caught the eye of the coaches with his toughness. Then again, you don’t grow up having three older brothers without having your skin thicken a little bit. The decision to attend Ohio State eventually paid off, as Burger was a key part of the special teams unit during the 2014 championship season. Now, as he is in the middle of his senior season, Burger continued the family tradition by being awarded a scholarship by Ohio State before the season, as well as being named one of the team captains. While his path may have been a little different from what his father and brothers did, in many ways it was exactly the same.
“I’ve been ready for this. It took me a couple games to get my feet under me, but I think I’m getting better every week. I’m ready to go.”
Ohio State defensive lineman Nick Bosa via Austin Ward, ESPN
No matter who was going to follow Joey Bosa on Ohio State’s defensive line, they were going to have big shoes to fill, but expectations were even higher for Bosa’s younger brother. With the pressure of being expected to come into Ohio State and contribute immediately, as well as coming off the knee injury he suffered during his senior year of high school, it would have been understandable if the younger Bosa’s numbers didn’t quite match up to his brother’s. That hasn’t been the case so far, as Nick has posted better numbers through five games than Joey did his freshman year.
After recording four tackles for loss and two sacks through his first five games, the scary thing is Nick Bosa is only going to get better as the season moves along. A big reason for Bosa’s early success has been defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who has been instrumental in bringing along Bosa at a pace that not only helps him grow, but also takes into account the ACL surgery Bosa underwent last year. It also helps that Ohio State has players like Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis playing on the edge, so they don’t have to overwork Bosa early during his freshman season. Now the biggest question after seeing how Joey and Nick have played, are there any Bosa defensive linemen left for Ohio State to recruit?
“I (visited Ohio State) knowing that it was my favorite school out of any school I was talking to. It seemed like a great opportunity before I even went there, but when I went there it sealed the deal.”
Ohio State basketball commit Braxton Beverly via Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
Ohio State basketball received their latest commitment on Monday night, as Braxton Beverly became part of the 2017 recruiting class. The three-star point guard from Kentucky might be a bit of a surprise to Ohio State fans, but head coach Thad Matta really likes what he sees in terms of the leadership Beverly could bring to the Buckeyes. The point guard took his official visit to Ohio State over the weekend and saw enough to decide that Ohio State was the place for him.
Originally Beverly had signed with Miami (Ohio) in the 2016 recruiting class, but decided that Oxford wasn’t right for him, so he asked for his release before the beginning of his freshman season. After the RedHawks granted Beverly his release, he spent the year at Hargrave Military Academy. Ohio State was already recruiting 2016 recruit Derek Funderburke at Hargrave, and while doing so they became familiar with what Beverly had to offer. Once Beverly was officially released from Miami, Ohio State was free to recruit the point guard. Last year Beverly even dropped 70 points in a game, breaking Terry Rozier’s school record. While Ohio State might not need Beverly to score that much, he’ll certainly be a welcome addition next year.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Next Thursday is The Haunted Hike in Westerville.
- Amazon is hiring hundreds of seasonal workers at its two central Ohio locations.
- Bob Dylan has been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature.
- Little Caesars is introducing a brisket pizza.